You might have heard this word thrown around in conversation, trigger point therapy tossed around after a 5k maraton run or cross-fit session, but what it is…
Here’s what you need to know about it and if it can help you.
What Is Trigger Point Therapy?
Dr. Janet Travell developed trigger point therapy. Dr. Travell’s research showed trigger points in muscles have a specific pain referral pattern. She was the personal physician for John F. Kennedy at the time when he struggled with back pain.
Trigger point therapy is a bodywork technique that involves the use of pressure to palpate painful muscle tissue to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body.
Patients describe where the pain is emanating from and then, working backward toward the muscle where the issue is happening for treatment. By applying pressure to the trigger points in the muscle, it “deactivates” the trigger point.
Trigger points are the contraction mechanism of the muscle locked into a shortened position, the treatment of the trigger point involves unlocking that contraction mechanism (sarcomere). Left untreated you may experience pain in your head that springs from a muscle in your neck. Pain in your neck could be a muscle in your shoulder having problems.
Trigger point therapy relieves the source of the pain by means of press and release cycles. Using deep breathing and by identifying the exact intensity and location of the pain, creates the most relief.
What Causes Trigger Points?
Factors cited as predisposing one to trigger point formation include poor posture, repetitive mechanical stress, mechanical imbalance, non-restorative sleep and vitamin deficiencies.
People working long hours sitting in front of a computer are bound to experience aching and tired muscles. Because they are sitting at a computer for 8 hours, they will experience muscles stuck in the shortened/lenghtened state which cause trigger points. Common trigger points are in the lower back and neck.
Active individuals involved in repetitive sports activities are likely to develop trigger points. Especially, sports which emphasize one-sidedness such as golf, bowling, running, and tennis. Anytime you are using on part of the anatomy over and over, almost all sports, you will develop trigger points. Sore muscles might not be just sore muscles, they might be referral pain from trigger points with years of accumulation doing repetitive sports.
Those with previous injuries are prone to mechanical imbalances. If you have recovered from a previous mechanical injury to the knee, hip, back, or neck and “favor” one side, you might have trigger points that you are favoring because of the pain.
Muscles need healthy nutrients to recover and a good dose of solid sleep at night for optimal performance. Sleep is the reset button to healthy muscles. Good sleep helps reset muscles back to a healthy state. Especially after a trigger point therapy session, getting proper sleep makes the treatment more amplified than without it.
Benefits Of Trigger Point Therapy For You
The benefits of trigger point therapy are releasing constricted muscle areas to relieve pain. Preventing pain from going to other parts of your body. Better range of motion. Feeling emotionally and mentally better about you and your body. It is also highly personalized to your body and its pain pattern, so better outcomes should result.
Being able to move without pain is what life is about. When you are pain-free you have options open up to you. Can have a choice of physical activities you can choose from, and not forced into because of pain.